Early Christian Nicknames

The main reason there are so many nicknames in the New Testament is because there were no family names, and so it made it easier to refer to specific people when “Judah” or “Simeon” would have been vague. But that refers more to “Thomas” (a nickname meaning “twin”) than to his reputation as “doubting” (a label placed on him by the later Christian tradition).

HT to Michael Patton for the cartoon.

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  • Q

    Funny cartoon. Poor old Thomas.

    Of course that story about him seems more like a ploy to convince the skeptical than a historical account, especially with the ‘blessed are those who believe without seeing’ at the end.

  • arcseconds

    What’s your favourite ancient nickname, James?

    I’m thinking mine’s probably ‘Plato’. It’s rather boring as a nickname, but it is notable that Plato is known now and forever by his ring-name!

    (Of course, I would say that, being as I’m such a Plato fan-boy)

    While it doesn’t really count as an ancient nickname, I’d also like to register my great love of ‘Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite’.

    If it wasn’t so damn long (part of its charm!) I’d have tried to use it as my disqus handle.

    But I’m not typing all of that in when I want to log in!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      “The Great” is obviously one to strive for. But barring that, there are others. Anyone with “of Alexandria” added to their name is to be taken more seriously. I love that Jesus apparently gave Simon the nickname “Rocky” (if you translate it).

      “Chysostom” and the Stylite” are also good ones, but I can’t see myself pursuing the latter…